The selection of architectural firms in Indiana school construction projects

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Nixon, Andrew Mark
Kowalski, Theodore J.
Issue Date
Thesis (D. Ed.)
Department of Educational Leadership
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The purpose of this research was to study the selection of architectural firms for 1997 and 1998 Indiana school construction projects of two million dollars or more. The study reported rankings for architectural selection criteria. Additionally, the study analyzed architectural selection procedures, architectural fees, the degree of respondent satisfaction with architectural services and the finished product, and the amount of inclusiveness in the selection.State records were used to identify the projects approved during the two-year period. Additional data were collected for 81% of the projects via surveys completed by superintendents or their designees.Major findings reported in the study include the following:1. Fees paid to architects ranged from 3.2% to 12.9% of construction costs, with the mean fee being 5.7%.2. In approximately 60% of the projects studied, respondents reported using an inclusive selection procedure for employing an architect.3. Slightly less than one-third of the projects (29%) used a direct selection procedure that precluded the use of a selection committee or the consideration of more than one firm.4. The two most frequently named selection criteria were experience in designing schools and reputation for completing projects within budget.5. The only variable found to have a significant association with the amount of fee paid was satisfaction with architectural services. Respondents in the low-fee category identified the highly satisfied response more than was expected.Outcomes suggest that a considerable number of school officials in the state did not adhere to the accepted best practices concerning competitive selection and the use of inclusive selection committees. The considerable variance in fees paid to architects was not explained by district size, district wealth, the nature of the construction project, or by the selection procedure used.Additional research was recommended in the following areas: (a) replication of the study in other states, (b) qualitative studies of superintendent attitudes about selection criteria and selection committee membership, (c) criteria for setting architectural fees, and (d) factors contributing to superintendent satisfaction. In addition, Indiana policymakers were encouraged to require local school districts to use competitive selection procedures.